The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell

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The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Thought-provoking, evocative and gripping - it's a superb picture of the ageing detective coping with the aftermath of the cold war and his own declining health. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099548409

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Hakan von Enke was a retired naval officer and a man of routine. Each morning he went for a long walk in the forest near his Stockholm home, but one day he failed to return. It's a long way from Ystad, Kurt Wallander's home town and the only reason he became involved in the case was the fact that von Enke's son Hans was the partner of Wallander's daughter Linda. Wallander became concerned about von Enke some months before when they had a long discussion at his seventy-fifth birthday party. He'd seemed worried and wary of a stranger in the street. Von Enke's disappearance hit the family hard - and then his wife disappeared as well.

Much of the discussion between Wallander and von Enke had centred on a controversy from some years before. Von Enke had been a submarine commander in an incident which allowed an unidentified submarine deep in the Stockholm Archipelago to escape when von Enke was certain that it could - and should - have been forced to the surface. He'd subsequently made himself unpopular when he pursued the matter - even taking it as far as the Prime Minister, Olaf Palme. Subsequently, his naval career had stalled. Did this have any relevance to his disappearance - and how did his wife fit into this?

On the cover, it says that the book is A Wallander Thriller. It's obviously Wallander, but I'm less certain that I'd call it a thriller. Wallander is ageing and hi body is prone to let him down on occasions, but there's a compensation in the shape of his granddaughter whom he adores. Von Enke's disappearance is nothing to do with him officially; his only involvement comes from Linda's relationship with von Enke's son and - as time passes - his own determination to get to the bottom of the mystery.

It's thought-provoking as Wallander realises that not everything is as it seems. There's a steadier pace to the book than in many of the Wallander novels, but I found this to be an advantage. There's time to appreciate the sense of place - usually, it's the Scanian countryside which features, but this time there's a real feel for the Stockholm Archipelago which brought memories of one of Mankell's non-Wallander novels [[Depths by Henning Mankell|Depths]. Best of all though was the look at how the Cold War affected Sweden and it's famed neutrality. I found my mind being pushed into corners unvisited for a while!

The ending wasn't a complete surprise. In many ways, it was the only answer which satisfied the questions - but I found it deeply moving. I'm not going to explain why as there's considerable impact if you don't know what's coming.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Another non-Wallander book from Mankell - and in my view the best he's written - is Italian Shoes and it will also give you more of the Stockholm Archipelago.

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Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander Novels in Chronological Order


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